My daughter recently had a swimming gala. I was on poolside as I was helping to find swimmers for the races (‘I need to find Lauren, could you try really hard to be her?’). On her first race, she made a technical fault and was disqualified. She was utterly distraught. After around ten minutes of reassuring her that this was perfectly okay and that even top athletes experience this, she was still sobbing. I then took a step back, spoke to one of the other most amazing teachers, and she calmed her down within a few minutes. She went on to take three golds, it was a good evening. But for me, asking for help, and knowing when my presence was not making things any better felt really good. It was empowering to recognise that I cannot do everything.
It has taken me a very long to realise that. When we are children, much stuff is done for us, and as we grow we learn to become more self-sufficient. Some skills come easy to us, and others not so much. As a child I could easily create a camp out of furniture, sometimes camps that would cover my whole room. But being able to put my hair in a ponytail? Not until I was a teenager. Some things we are impassioned to know, to understand. Other things just seem like a chore.
I think it is also down to what other people will do for us. As a parent, it feels like such a delicate balance. Helping your child to develop with your assistance, and knowing when to step back and let them find their own way of doing things, their own flight. A few years ago I was choosing all of my daughter’s clothes each morning, and now she finds her own. Some of her choices are a bit mad, and this is awesome. It is also incredibly important as she ascends into adulthood.
One of the best gifts we can give our children is encouraging and enabling them to be confident and independent people. I read recently that children who share in the home chores are more likely to be successful adults. I don’t know whether this is true, but it feels that it could be. Understanding that some things take effort is an important skill to learn. We need to be able to achieve.
But understanding that we cannot do everything is just as important. No one can learn all the skills, all the crafts, all the everythings. But for some people, for me, I felt as if I had to. My mindset was I could not be totally successful unless I could do everything for myself because relying on others? That was a weakness. That was a failing I had that I felt compelled to improve. And if I couldn’t learn something? That made me feel low.
Learning to ask others for help, not just when I am desperate, has been something that I have really struggled to learn. But I am learning. People utilise my skills, I utilise the skills of others, and collectively, we all grow together. And realising that has been a new beginning.
Map Point. What skills do I share with others?